Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Teaching Assistant Sues Wilfrid Laurier over Alleged 'Inquisition'

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Teaching Assistant Sues Wilfrid Laurier over Alleged 'Inquisition'

Article excerpt

Teaching assistant sues over 'inquisition'


TORONTO - A university teaching assistant who gained prominence after being disciplined for showing students a TV clip of a controversial professor discussing gender-neutral pronouns is suing the school.

In an unproven statement of claim filed this week, Lindsay Shepherd says Wilfrid Laurier University behaved negligently, leaving her unemployable in academia.

The suit, not tested in any court of law, names the school in Waterloo, Ont., two professors, and a manager of the university's diversity and equity office. It seeks a total of $3.6 million in various damages.

"The conduct of the defendants was objectively outrageous and flagrant," the suit alleges. "They had reckless disregard for the fact that the foreseeable consequences of their conduct would cause Shepherd to suffer emotional stress -- which it did."

Wilfrid Laurier has yet to file a statement of defence but said it would "vigorously defend" against the claim.

In a statement to The Canadian Press, the university called the claim "one perspective of a legal matter issued in pursuit of a financial claim" and said it remained dedicated to its core values. Those values, the school said, included a commitment to intellectual inquiry and scholarly integrity in a supportive and inclusive community.

"Since Ms. Shepherd first raised her initial concerns, the university has taken numerous measures to address the matter, including issuing an apology to Ms. Shepherd," the statement said. "That apology still stands."

The two professors named in the suit did not respond to requests for comment and the manager in the university's diversity and equity office could not immediately be reached.

The issue arose in November, when Shepherd screened a TVOntario program for her class in which Jordan Peterson, a now prominent author and psychologist, defended his antipathy at having to use gender-neutral pronouns.

The following day, Shepherd was called to a meeting she calls an "inquisition" with Nathan Rambukkana, the professor under whom Shepherd was working; Herbert Pimlott, a program co-ordinator; and Adria Joel, who was in charge of the diversity and equity office. …

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